REGULATIONS > Insufficient Resources

Despite the enactment and amendment of China’s water laws, the mechanisms for implementation and enforcement have not been sufficiently developed. Specifically, these include the procedures for imposing penalties and sanctions, as well as monitoring and supervision. According to Renmin University Professor Song Guojian1, there are no documents detailing how many times per year a factory must be monitored.

“Factories might well use their pollution control equipment or monitor their emissions only when there are inspectors present,” says Song.


China does not have enough resources to deal with its mountain of waste.

In addition to insufficient procedures, the pro-development bias of local officials cannot be curtailed by an under-resourced environmental protection ministry such as MEP, which operates with just 300 employees in Beijing and an estimated total of 2,600 nationwide2. For a country the size of China, such limited manpower is woefully inadequate. By contrast, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has staff resources of 17,000. Whilst it is likely that the ministry will receive additional staff over the coming years, it is unlikely they will be sufficient compared to the task at hand.

MEP’s lack of manpower resources is further compounded by what is generally regarded as a lack of financial influence when compared to other agencies in China’s Administration.

1 Cited in the testimony of Elizabeth Economy, C.V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director, Asia Studies Council on Foreign Relations Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, United States Senate Hearing on “Challenges and Opportunities for U.S.-China Cooperation on Climate Change,” June 4, 2009.
2 Figures cited in World Resources Institute, Earth trends.